project simplify

Something interesting happened while we were traveling. [We were in Europe, mainly Croatia for almost 2 and 1/2 months, if you missed it]. Somewhere around the middle of our trip, I was filled with a huge craving to go home and empty my cabinets and drawers of all of the things that we didn’t need, didn’t use, or were just plain ugly. :)

On our trip, we were together in SMALL spaces for 73 days straight. Small apartments, small cars, crowded planes, boats, trains, and busses.

The apartment where we spent most of our time was 516 sq. ft. in size, roughly 48 sq meters. (And some of that space was filled with furniture we stacked because we didn’t need it). Remember, we have a toddler and that my sister came to stay with us the last few weeks. There were little moments when I thought I was going to go mad. Yes, I have those little moments. But interestingly, it had less to do with being together in small spaces (luckily we like each other), but rather to do with clutter and inability to control/design my environment.

Our favorite spaces were actually tiny apartments with great storage cabinets, clean, simple bathrooms, small, open kitchens, and an outdoor balcony or terrace with a table that we could eat at together. There was one particular apartment that was probably 400 square feet (with an outdoor balcony) which we really thought we could live in (well, maybe with an extra room or two). ;)

On this trip, I learned what I could & couldn’t  live with. (Okay, what I want to, and don’t want to live with). I can live with less clothes, less possessions, less space. In fact, there’s something quite NICE about less. Things can really weigh you down.

But there are things I do need. To feel at home, I need to be able to put my things away. I need the bathroom and kitchen areas to be pleasant and fresh. I want to eat at a table and have an eating space that turns meals into special and enjoyable breaks in the day, and OH, a beautiful outdoor space makes a WORLD of a difference.

When we first arrived home to Chicago, Aki and I both proclaimed that “WHOA, we live in a mansion!” ha. Yes, our house is rather large comparatively, but in some ways that has gotten me away from designing a home and life that we really want. Our house can be so draining. We just push things around and the vastness of creating this “home” sometimes overwhelms me (and so I move it off to another day).

Living in the extremes has a way of giving you clarity; as does being uncomfortable. Traveling can do that. After 73 days of changing “homes” repeatedly, I know the bare bones of what I need in a living space. And more importantly, it’s more obvious to me how much our living spaces affect how we feel and function in our homes.

I’ve always put off tackling our back-yard garden, but now I can see what pleasure a beautiful garden and ability to eat outside can be. I want to make our eating areas more lovely in general. Some of that takes money  and time, but what I can do right now is to de-clutter. We don’t need so many things. And particularly, we don’t need all the ugly things. :)

It’s a lofty goal, but I’d love to live in a home that makes me appreciate the simple beauty in daily routine. We can’t always be traveling (sigh). Daily life needs its little pleasures, and home needs to be a peaceful place. CAUSE LET’S BE REAL, daily life is exhausting and messy. Right Mateo? :)

So on to project: SIMPLIFY! HAPPY AUGUST 1st! “The first” is always a good day to begin. I’m already starting to fill bags and boxes with toys, clothes, and just that extra NONSENSE that seem to follow us. I’ve already scheduled a pick-up from a local charity shop for August 5. Deadlines are good. Once phase one is complete, it’s off to bringing on more organization and “pretty things” (like matching dishes) into the mix. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I already want to take a nap! :)

Anyone else feeling the itch to simplify?

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12 Thoughts on “simplify

  1. Sinead:

    I can’t imagine you have many ugly things Henna!

  2. Valerie:

    Me, big time! I don’t have a lot of clutter, but there’s this mountain of nice clothes and shoes (and purses and scarves and accessories…) I’ve been meaning to sell for TWO YEARS. I’m about to move again, and the idea of lugging it to yet another apartment – where it will set in yet another corner – makes me vaguely ill. I think I’m just going to cut my losses and give everything away. Whee!

    • Yeah, sometimes you just have to cut your losses! Ughh, I hate moving…but it really is the best way to pare down your possessions, isn’t it!

  3. ah stuff, we think we need lots of ‘stuff’, we don’t. especially when i see caleb play mostly with plastic bottles or kitchen roll holders when he’s got plenty of toys begging to be played with!!

    hope you’re settling back in nicely and don’t have the post holiday blues too bad!

    • So true about the toys! When we were traveling, Mateo had a very small collection of trucks which he was obsessed with and always playing with. Those and some rocks are all he needs. :)

      We’re are settled back into life in Chicago. So funny how that just happens immediately. It already seems like our trip was so long ago. Funny that. Maybe because Split and Chicago are just so different. Maybe because Mateo just charges on and so much we, ha. :)

  4. I abhor clutter and feel constricted by it. With a child, we needed to control clutter and that’s when we began relying on furniture that had multiple functions. I rue the day I bought ottomans that don’t store anything. ;-)

    • It’s one of our biggest needs! We have no furniture that does double duty. Need more storage! I can be such a slob, but it’s amazing how much clearer I can think when things are clutter-free and organized. I just need to try to be like you! ;) You’re the master.

  5. Pingback: if Mateo had a blog | HENNA BLOSSOM

  6. Whenever I’m on the road for a long time I feel this way. We have too much things that we necessarily don’t need. You’re right. We don’t need all that space, clothes, shoes, etc.

    Happy to see your trip! My, how utterly beautiful your adventures must have been. Also, did you get my email? I emailed it using your contact thing on your blog. I wrote how I found you on my airbnb message history while on a trip to Chicago several years back. I guess I had contacted you when you had a listing on airbnb. I was looking at my message history and I’m like.. wait. She looks familiar. How funny & small the internet world can be.

    • No WAY! ha, that’s amazing. Yes! We actually used to have the #1 property rating on airbnb in Chicago. I loved it, we were always meeting interesting people. Old life, old condo, now sold. I love that our paths have almost crossed multiple times…we just have to meet in “real life” now. :)

      You know, I didn’t get your email! There was a glitch a couple months back where the messages were going into spam and unfortunately I wasn’t checking email (let alone spam) much while we were traveling. Fixed now! So glad you told me again! I just love coincidences like that! Love them!

  7. WONDERFUL! I ebb and flow with wanting to declutter, and how few clothes do I REALLY need? What helps me most is knowing SOMEONE ELSE NEEDS NOW the think I just shuffle into storage or think I “might wear” this year. I might like having 20 coffee mugs…but someone else NEEDS five of them. Now. So when I donate I feel better realizing this. THANK YOU for your words.

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